Libya’s deputy ambassador at UN calls on ICC to prosecute Gaddafi
February 21, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Libyan deputy ambassador to the United Nations called on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo to investigate what he described as genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Muammar Gaddafi during the ongoing unrest in the country.
Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi (AFP)
Gaddafi was waging a bloody battle to hang on to power as the revolt against his 41-year rule reached the capital, Tripoli. Witnesses said warplanes and helicopters had fired directly on protesters in the capital.
Earlier today, two Libyan fighter jets landed in Malta, their pilots defecting after they had been ordered to bomb protesters. At least one of them reportedly requested political asylum.
Graphic videos and images of disfigured bodies in Libya are flooding the Internet and YouTube. Eyewitnesses say that in many parts of the country corpses are lying on the streets while hospitals are struggling to keep up with the flow of dead bodies and injured people.
Diplomats at Libya’s mission to the United Nations including its deputy’s chief Ibrahim Dabbashi and other staff issued a statement today declaring that they no longer represent Gaddafi and are now serving the Libyan people.
They also demanded “the removal of the regime immediately” and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.
Speaking to the BBC today, Dabbashi said he wants three things of the international community.
“The first thing is to impose a no-fly zone….so that no arms supplies or mercenaries arrive to the regime. The second thing is to establish a safe passage from the borders of Libya with Tunisia and Egypt so that medical supplies can arrive through Benghazi,” Dabbashi said.
“And also we are calling on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to start investigating the genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of war committed by Gaddafi against his people,” the Libyan diplomat added.
In a separate interview with the Associated Press Dabbashi said that the best scenario “is to have him [Gaddafi] before the court, to prosecute him and to know from him everything about the crimes he committed before, whether it is … the genocide he is committing now or the disappearance of certain important personalities… and all the other crimes he has committed during the 42 years in power.”
He confirmed reports that Gaddafi has recruited armed forces from unidentified African countries to crush the uprising.
“We warn all African countries who are sending their soldiers to fight, to fight with Gaddafi, that they will not see their soldiers coming back” Dabbashi said.
In an editorial today, the Washington Post echoed the call saying that if a new government does not emerge in Libya the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should request the ICC to take case of Libya.
Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which is the founding text of the ICC and as such for the Hague tribunal to initiate an investigation, a referral from the UNSC will be required.
The council has made this move only once before in the case of Darfur under a Chapter VII resolution since Sudan is also not a not a member of the court.
The ICC has charged several people in the Darfur case including Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
Ironically, it was Libya that has been a staunch critic of Bashir’s indictment calling it a “tool of international terrorism”. Gaddafi has lobbied the African Union (AU) successfully in July 2009 to adopt a resolution barring any country on the continent to arrest Bashir even if they were under legal obligation to do so.
Sudan has hailed the AU’s position as victory against the ICC and some African countries that have signed up to the court such as Kenya and Chad have used it as an excuse to receive Bashir on their territory despite being required to apprehend him.
Libya also led efforts along with Eritrea, Djibouti and Senegal to have African countries withdraw from the ICC in protest of Bashir’s arrest warrant but failed in this regard.
The AU has asked the UNSC to defer Bashir’s indictment and last month also pleaded with the council to freeze the ICC’s investigations into the post-elections violence in Kenya.
Critics say that the pan-African body has a poor record of acting on human right violations occurring in the continent and is instead focusing on shielding and embracing leaders and regimes notorious for abuses and corruption.
The AU has so far maintained silence over events in Libya despite condemnations from other regional and international bodies such as the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).
Sudan Tribune has made several attempts to reach the spokesperson of the AU commission chairman with no success.
Reed Brody from Human Rights Watch said: ‘‘We would like to see friends of Libya, the African Union, the European Union, make clear that this violence against unarmed protesters has to stop, that these are crimes that are being committed and that those who commit them could be brought to justice. We would like to see a total cut off of military and security aid to Libya and demand that Libya restore the Internet and allow journalists and human rights group in to see what is really happening”.
Today, the U.N. said that its Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had an extensive discussion over the phone with Gaddafi in which he condemned the escalating violence in Libya and told him it “must stop immediately”.
The Arab League chief Amr Moussa also called for an end to the violence in Libya saying that “the demands of the Arab peoples for reform, development and change are legitimate and … the feelings of all the [Arab] nations are joined in this decisive moment in history”.
Al-Jazeera TV based in Qatar reported that the Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss unfolding events in Libya.
The Secretary General of the OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was also quoted by the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper as sayingthat what is happening in Libya “is murder that cannot be justified”.
Gaddafi, who has billions of dollars at his disposal, is one of the AU’s largest benefactors providing along with four other countries 75% of its budget. The Libyan leader has been pushing for an African unity government for years, saying it is the only way Africa can develop without Western interference. He wanted the organization’s small executive body to be granted enhanced powers and remodeled as the African Authority.
However, heavyweight African nations resisted the idea saying it encroaches on their sovereignty.